For four year old Labrador Gus, his usual walk in Lews Castle Grounds on Friday, December 6th, turned into a life-saving venture.
Having strolled around the Creed with owner Jessie Welsh, enjoying the fresh snow, when the pair neared Cuddy Point Gus suddenly stopped, disappeared down an embankment, and started to bark.
“He just stopped dead,” explained Jessie, “and then he was off down the embankment. After a wee while he came back up and started barking at me. Then he’d run down again and come back again, all the time barking; I figured he was trying to tell me something.”
Jessie then followed Gus down around eight feet on the steep embankment.
She continued: “I went for a look and at first I thought I was looking at a rock sticking out of the snow.
“Then I realised it was a black jacket and found an elderly man lying face down in the snow.
“I think that Gus had roused him, sniffing about, and he’d obviously been there for quite a while as he was very cold.
“I’d passed four walkers with dogs coming the opposite way and no one had noticed him, so if it hadn’t been for Gus I wouldn’t have seen anything either.”
Unable to help the man back up the embankment, Jessie then stopped another dog walker who had a mobile and called for assistance.
Soon the man was helped up the slope and transferred to awaiting ambulance, which took him to get checked out at Western Isles Hospital.
“He’s really my son’s dog and it was him who trained Gus. My son’s at university now so I look after him,” said Jessie.
“He’s got lots of energy and a good, keen nose; he’s always sniffing things out.
“You never really hear anything good about dogs in the Castle Grounds and many people think they should be kept on the lead; but look at what happened here when Gus was left to follow his nose!”
Originally from Newfoundland, Canada, the Labrador breed of dog are curious and exploratory and are renowned for their sense of smell, which allows them to home in on almost any scent and follow its path of origin.
Often trained as assistance dogs, one Labrador called Endal helped an unconscious man during a 2001 emergency by placing him in the recovery position, retrieving his mobile phone from under a car, fetched a blanket and covered him, barked at nearby houses for help and then ran to a nearby hotel to raise the alarm!